Edinburgh - Land of Scotch, lochs and castles

Five things you cannot miss while travelling in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

You cannot resist the Scottish melody. Rising up from the hills, flowing down the fields, ringing across the lochs, reaching into towns and villages, the bagpiper lures you with his tunes. I stopped in the middle of the journey in Edinburgh just to hear him busking, his song transporting me to a different era.  Knights, warriors, poets and ghosts visit you from every lane of Edinburgh.  There is so much to do, so much to absorb and just so much to live it up here. And as you down a glass of Scotch, you hear stories of ghosts haunting the town. The medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town are very charming and Edinburgh is always celebrating - the Fringe Festival, the International Festival, the International Book Festival among others. However if you are in town for just a few days, here are the five things that you must not miss at any cost.

Edinburgh Castle from the South
The Royal Mile

There is history, legends, monuments, forts, palaces, restaurants, pubs and shops all along one Scottish mile in the old Edinburgh town. This is where every tourist lands and explores the linear streets that take you to a medieval world. You begin your tour from the Edinburgh Castle and end at Holyrood Abbey. The alleys or closes as they are called add to the character. You may want to take time off to explore the four main streets - Castle Hill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate where you get to explore the monuments. My personal favourite is the Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British king in Scotland.  You get a glimpse of the life and betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots here, while you see the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey founded in the 12th century.  But then you get to down history here with large glasses of whisky, so don’t miss out the pubs here. My favourite is the 16th century White Hart Inn, one of the oldest pubs in Edinburgh.

The Whiskey Tour

Now a trip to Scotland is never complete without getting high and a taste of all the whiskies and single malts. The Scotch Whiskey Experience is one you must not miss. On my way to Glenkinchie distillery, we discussed the highland and lowland malts and got the entire low down, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Discover the various flavours and aromas and get a bit tipsy with every sip of various malts and whiskies.  If you have the time, do visit any of the distilleries around Edinburgh where a tour guide will take you through the entire process.

The haunted Edinburgh
 
Some laugh it off, others shriek. But the many haunted tours around Edinburgh are one that will tickle your senses or tingle your nerves. It is even better if you are a bit tipsy with some Scotch inside you as you explore the underground vaults.  These vaults are basically dark and dingy chambers that give you a sense of exploring the hidden and spooky world of Edinburgh where they tell you stories of serial murderers and ghosts which still haunt them.

Literary tour

My wanderlust started probably when I got hooked onto Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a child. And then of course there is the Deacon Brodies Tavern, the man who inspired Stevenson to write The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  If you are into literature like me, do visit the Writer’s Museum where you can see the works and memorabilia of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson among others. The towering Scott Monument is a landmark of the city. If you however ask me, the best way to explore is to sign up for one of those Literary Pub Walking Tours where you can get high on literature.

Arthur’s Seat
 
Scotland is always synonymous with knights and if you are into legends like me, then the first thing that comes to your mind is King Arthur of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. Right in the heart of the old town is a group of hills and most hikers scale the peak called Arthur’s Seat. It is believed that this rocky outcrop was possibly the Camelot, referred to in legends. Forming most of Holyrood Park, these craggy hilltops were a result of volcanic activity. However legends and myths, religious and literary allusions to this hill make it a tourist attraction. If you are the adventurous kind, go take a hike!

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